Will Hopoate has been spending time training in the centres.
Will Hopoate has been spending time training in the centres. DEAN LEWINS

Young gun gets first shot at Bulldogs No.1

WITH only three weeks until the start of the NRL season, young flyer Nick Meaney appears to have snatched the Bulldogs' No.1 jersey from star fullback Will Hopoate.

The 21-year-old, who only made his NRL debut in Round 18 last season for the Newcastle Knights, appears to has usurped Hopoate with the former NSW fullback training in the centres.

The unexpected shift has however not stopped Hopoate from lending the young speedster a hand.

Speaking at the Fox League launch at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Wednesday, Hopoate said he was happy to help Meaney for "the benefit of the team".

"He has trained at the back most of the pre-season," Hopoate said. "He has been really good. He has pace, a lot of pace. I actually didn't realise how fast he was until he got to the Dogs.

"I think he will be really good for us. I have been trying to help him out defensively. He is a natural athlete and he has a lot of ability but I just want to be there to help him get numbers right and not be scared to order the blokes around the park.

"As a youngster you can get a bit shy ordering the older blokes around the field."

Will Hopoate is expected to line up in the centres.
Will Hopoate is expected to line up in the centres. DEAN LEWINS

Hopoate admitted fullback is his preferred choice but said he will play wherever coach Dean Pay decides to put him in the Round 1 clash against New Zealand Warriors on March 16.

Meaney is not the only acquisition making waves at Belmore, with former Roosters heavy-hitter Dylan Napa quickly acclimatising to life in the blue and white.

Napa has strengthened the Bulldogs pack following the loss of David Klemmer to the Knights, and Hopoate said his impact was already being felt.

"He has put a few massive hits on in training. I'm just glad I'm on his team during scrimmage," he said.

"Dylan has been great since joining the team, he has really bought into the culture at the club."

Dylan Napa is making his presence felt with the Bulldogs. (Tim Hunter)
Dylan Napa is making his presence felt with the Bulldogs. (Tim Hunter)

Hopoate was at the media launch as one of Fox League on Foxtel's newest player talents as he joins the broadcast team as an analyst.

For the 26-year-old, it is the first step in what he hopes will be a long media career. But it is a career he wouldn't have thought possible four years ago.

"For me, I went away for two years on my mission and all I did over there was talk to people," he said.

"That definitely helped with my confidence. Honestly, if it wasn't for that experience I don't think I could do a gig like this. I know how to communicate and now I am excited to see what it is all about."

News Corp Australia


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